In September 2018, when Nicole DiMonda was diagnosed with breast cancer, she underwent the regimen of widely prescribed medications, but also incorporated psilocybin and whole-plant edible cannabis in her therapy. This alternative medicine has intrigued scientists, as they improved the effectiveness of her treatments. More compelling is that her husband, an accomplished Endocannabinologist named Jaime Brambila, the Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of Grace Health + Wellness, administered the holistic remedies.
Mr. Brambila, said, "We are thrilled by Nicole's results from both her conventional and experimental treatments. We hope that future breast cancer patients will complement their pharmaceuticals with cannabis medicine and any encouraging preclinical signals may pave the way for wider use."
Dr. Mikael Sodergran, Senior Clinical Lecturer, Imperial College London and Consultant Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said, "Nicole has had such a fantastic response. Whilst we cannot draw any conclusions regarding the efficacy of cannabis-based medicinal products for the treatment of breast cancer based on this report, it is promising. We at the Imperial College Medical Cannabis Research Group are studying how individual cannabinoids may have anti-neoplastic effects."
Dr. Dustin Sulak, one of Nicole's physicians, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, an Integrative Medicine Specialist, medical cannabis expert, and the Founder of Integr8 Health, says, "We are collaborating clinically with cancer patients intervening using cannabis and psilocybin. They are invaluable; and witnessing their impact has been profound. They can improve the patient's quality of life, relieve pain, depression, and anxiety while promoting psychological adaptation to a challenging diagnosis and prognosis. They may also enhance our innate anti-cancer mechanisms and work additively or synergistically with other treatments."
Dr. Sulak continues, "Based on my clinical experience, all patients with cancer can significantly benefit in some way from the appropriate use of cannabis and psilocybin. In the future, including these will be the standard of care; they both have safety profiles. While the research community is focused on the therapeutic effects in treating psychiatric conditions, Nicole's case shows they impact physical conditions like cancer."
This is the first time a breast cancer patient's use of these therapies has been reported scientifically. The ground-breaking paper suggests that cancer-combatting treatments including Herceptin, Perjeta and Taxotere have been improved by Ms. DiMonda's use of cannabinoids and psychedelics.
"Caution is absolutely key," said Rayyan Zafar from the Department of Brain Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London. But we are optimistic. Clinical trials in late stage cancer could help get them approved as legal therapies and it could well be a revolution in cancer treatment," he says.
Jaime Brambila said, "Nicole's case study exemplifies a strategic polypharmaceutical approach to cancer. Cannabis is the quintessential example of a multipurpose integrative tool that stimulates a range of physiological functions," he confirms.
"This therapeutic effect has potential in interventions for chronic disease. The anti-neoplastic effects of cannabinoids are stimulated when these compounds synergistically activate chemical receptors. The endocannabinoid system, discovered in the nineties, creates homeostatic balance," said Dr. Dustin Sulak.
The researchers have agreed that one of the obstacles in working in this science area is the stigma around cannabis and psilocybin. These natural compounds are Schedule I substances that governments worldwide have designated as illegal. Fortunately, this is changing.
Mr. Brambila states that, "Our conclusions are based on Nicole's overwhelming outcome. We have identified our mission to bring these alternatives to everyone without restriction, and to do so, we must go through the appropriate channels of the drug approval route. We still do not have a way to accurately target this physiological system. However, patients cannot wait for the approval. We see the therapeutic potential for patients deciding to safely explore by themselves and sometimes in partnership with their physicians," he said.
"The good news is that nature may hold the key to the combination of compounds we need to heal, modernizing a new era of better healthcare," Mr. Brambila imagines.